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The Gaulish Gourmet


Wild boar: a myth or reality?

Contrary to what Asterix's adventures would lead you to believe, wild boar was not the Gauls' preferred dish.
They were far more fond of pork and beef from the animals they had domesticated, with a side dish of grains (the Gauls were farmers), washed down with ale, mead, or Italian wine.
Pork occupied a prime place at their table where it was served cooked in a number of ways: stewed, roasted or cured, salted, or smoked.
Butchering a hog was always an occasion to party. Everyone participated in making hams, sausages, lard, head cheese, blood pudding and quenelles from the fresh meat. Methods of preservation included drying, smoking, salting, or potting (with fat as the preservative). What was not eaten by the family was sold at markets and fairs. The animal's fat, or lard, was used as a cooking grease.

The Gaulish banquet, an aristocratic warrior tradition

The Gaulish banquet was not a myth; it was a real tradition.
However, more than an occasion for communal rejoicing, the event served to demonstrate the host's wealth and social status. The Gaulish social system, ruled by an extravagant aristocracy, held banquets as a form of competition as well as entertainment. Showering guests with wine and victuals ensured the popularity of the host and secured increased support to bolster his power in the community.
Later, banquets became a setting for war councils prior to great battles. The valiant Gaulish warriors, who scorned death, would quaff wine as a symbol of their enemies' blood, soon to flow on the battlefield.


The Gauls were heavy drinkers and, by the end of their feasts, they were usually well intoxicated, either in deep slumber or in a state close to total frenzy…
According to the Greek historian and philosopher Posidonius: "The Gauls eat civilized foods, but with a wolfish appetite. They seize the pieces of meat in their fists and devour them, going as far as to gnaw on the very bones." Sounds familiar. In fact, doesn't it remind you of someone?

Wine in Gaulish culture

According to ancient writings, the Gauls were great lovers of wine. However, outside southern France, where vineyards had been introduced by the Greeks in 600 B.C. upon their return from Persia, wine was not grown locally. Instead, it was shipped in amphora from Greece and Italy. The Gauls later replaced these containers with wooden barrels, which were sturdier and less porous.
Only the Gaulish aristocracy drank wine on a regular basis, sharing their wealth with others during lavish banquets. It's hardly surprising that this beverage became a symbol of power and prestige. In fact, it maintains a special aura even today.
There was little resemblance between the wine the Gauls drank and what we drink today: indeed, their tastes ran to "resinous" (picatum) or syrupy (passum) wines.



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